Off hours: Chief of Card Co in DIFC pushes the envelope

Ramzi Razian is the chief executive of The Card Co, a luxury stationer based in Dubai International Financial Centre. The Canadian, 51, has lived in the UAE for the past 29 years.

What are your favourite things to do on the weekend?

I am an early riser but I prefer to begin the weekend with nine hours of sleep. After a short prayer, I’m off to the gym for my usual session, followed by a swim. I find that working out in the morning gives me a fresh start to the day, and I feel more energised. I aim to read a new book every week, so this is something I immerse myself in the morning. Over the weekend I do enjoy sipping a cup of coffee while watching people go about their day, and the Jumeirah Beach Hotel is a perfect spot for this, with the Burj Al Arab in the background, against the backdrop of the blue sea. This is typically followed by a walk by the beach, especially near the Al Qasr Hotel. Dubai’s landscape has never ceased to fascinate me, even though I have been living here for many years now. My day is not complete until I have spoken with my family, who still live in Toronto. I like to top it off by cooking a nice meal for myself, accompanied by a glass of something and my favourite music.

What do you consider to be your favourite hobby?

Reading, cooking, sports and fitness are things I absolutely love, and you’re likely to find me doing one of these activities when I’m not working. I may have lived in Dubai for a while now, but I continue to remain a traveller at heart. To date, I have been to over 100 countries in the world, and I can’t wait to explore the rest. Clichéd as it may sound, I’m passionate about my work, too. I find helping entrepreneurs create successful businesses hugely rewarding – as a result, I am currently developing a book aimed at SME mentoring.

What can’t you live without?

My family and good music — these, according to me, are the ingredients for eternal happiness.

What do you consider the secret to your success?

Passion and conviction. First of all, you have to believe in your business and your abilities. You also need to be supported by your family and your loved ones to create something you can be truly proud of. I consider Dubai one of the most vibrant business cities on Earth – it is always a huge and ongoing source of inspiration for me, and has given me the opportunity to grow into who I have become today.

What advice would you offer others starting out in your business?

Do your homework – the fanciest business plan can fall apart once reality sets in. Choose the right people and always keep yourself grounded, getting involved and asking questions, while remaining realistic. You acquire many insights just by listening to the people around you, because you will get to understand different points of view and hear a variety of experiences that will help you develop your own personal thoughts, ideas and, most importantly, your opinions. Every day is an opportunity to learn; every day is a day of training. My second piece of advice would be that times are changing. Let’s take customer service as an example – it is no longer about providing a good customer service; nowadays it is about creating a true, multi-channel customer experience. It has become increasingly important to do what the market and customer wants, and not what you would ideally like to see. Globally, the expected quality of customer service is being redefined with each passing day, and meeting those standards has become an important goal.

How do you achieve a work-life balance?

I tend to disconnect from all social media and I shut down my laptop and other devices after work. It helps me have some “me” time without any interruptions.

How do you relax after the working day?

I find that silence is a very powerful tool, so I meditate and pray. Music and simple things such as spending time with your pet are also helpful. I prefer to turn off the TV, too; that helps me to keep away from negative news.

If you weren’t in your current role, what else would you be doing?

I am quite passionate about social work, so that’s probably a sector I would have been in, were it not for my present occupation.

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